Whose back yards are we talking about?

2009-02-14 00:00

Problem child Julius Malema has been bombarded with criticism since he became the president of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), which is one of the most influential organs of the party. This has been largely because of some of the more colourful and controversial statements he has made about political parties and individuals, both within the ANC and outside the party.

His attack on Education Minister Naledi Pandor has left her detractors and enemies alike feeling sorry for the comrade with an accent leaning towards Britain (and not the United States as Malema suggested in his outburst) and who is also believed to be a loyalist of former president Thabo Mbeki.

With the exception of a few, presidents of the ANCYL have always been radical in approach and very vocal. It was the ANCYL of the Nelson Mandela and the Walter Sisulu eras that threw its weight behind the militarisation of the ANC through Umkhonto we Sizwe, despite the diplomatic approach that was suggested by Albert Luthuli, a former and respected president of the ANC.

Peter Mokaba also came out with his guns blazing as he coined the military mantra “kill the boer, kill the farmer”, although the farming and Afrikaans community responded with “one farmer, one taxi”.

So Malema is by no means the exception, but the rule. Malema’s public spat with Mangosuthu Buthelezi has got to be a lowlight for the latter. Perhaps the IFP president should have left the street fight to IFP MP and youth leader Thulasizwe Buthelezi.

If anything, Mangosuthu Buthelezi has been fuelling political fights himself as he dared Malema to go into his home and recruit members of his family, as Malema had earlier promised he would. Buthelezi’s veiled threats are contrary to what the IFP national chairperson did when he, together with party officials and members of the media, went into the home of ANC MP Meshack Radebe’s parents and declared them to be IFP members. Whose back yard was that?

Where did the IFP launch its election manifesto? I thought Soweto was an ANC stronghold. The IFP has recently held its meetings in Umlazi and this was not at the hostel where its members reside. The party has also freely gathered and campaigned at KwaMashu. I am trying to figure out what this obsession is with back yards.

Parties can have so-called strongholds, but these should not be exclusive to them. I have not heard political parties saying they will be going on the campaign trail in Ulundi. No one makes it out of that place, except a chosen few, such as Buthelezi’s son Tutu.

Buthelezi and Malema could be fighting for something else other than campaigning in each others back yards. It could be for who the rightful president of the ANCYL really is.

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